KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 – The government is currently studying the feasibility of heterologous vaccinations, or a mixture of two different types of vaccines, to be used as part of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Program (PIN), revealed the Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Oxford & Cambridge Alumni Network Malaysia, Khairy revealed how data from recipients receiving Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines as the first and second dose showed promising results in increasing vaccine efficacy rate.
He said research data from Germany showed that applying the heterologous approach can stimulate neutralizing antibodies in the recipient, which would ultimately protect them against the emergence of new variants of Covid-19.
“We have actual data that we received from Germany on heterologous vaccinations using AstraZeneca for the first dose and Pfizer vaccine for the second dose which has been shown to stimulate neutralizing antibodies and be more effective against the variants.
âWe are monitoring this very closely. We don’t want to make a quick decision before we get more data, âhe said during the webinar.
He said the proposal to employ the heterologous vaccination method was presented by the director of the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), Dr P. Kalairasu, at the NIP committee meeting last week.
Khairy added that once enough data has been investigated, recommendations should be made by the NIP technical working group to his committee before he and Health Minister Datuk Seri, Dr Adham Baba, decide. as co-chairs of the NIP.
He said the government is also considering heterologous vaccinations due to the supply constraints they currently face.
âOnce the working group is clear on this, they will provide advice to the committee that I chair with the Minister of Health and we will implement the heterologous vaccinations; we may end up doing it.
âPlus, when you’re faced with vaccine supply constraints, you can mix things up and make sure the effect of the vaccine is still there,â he said.
This after reports of the first data from a German trial involving a small test group of just 26 young patients suggesting that a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses can trigger immune responses up to four times stronger than if two doses of the same vaccine were administered.
The test showed that heterologous vaccination methods were more effective at neutralizing antibodies to protect recipients from new straits of Covid-19 such as Alpha and Beta strains.
It has also been reported that repeated doses of either vaccine tend to become less effective over time, or induce stronger side effects with repeated doses.